US sanctions Iran groups for 'rights abuses’

The US Treasury on Wednesday (May 30th) placed several Iranian state groups on its sanctions blacklist, accusing them of serious human rights abuses and censorship, AFP reported.

In the latest of a series of actions meant to increase pressure on the Iranian regime, the Treasury named the semi-official paramilitary group Ansar-e-Hizbullah and three of its leaders to its sanctions list.

The goal is to lock those who are blacklisted out of the global financial and commercial system.

Ansar-e-Hizbullah is "an organisation supported by the Iranian regime that harasses and attacks the Iranian people", the Treasury said, citing its alleged role in acid attacks against women seen as improperly dressed in Isfahan, and other violent attacks on student protestors.

The Treasury also sanctioned Tehran's Evin Prison, used to house political prisoners, saying inmates are subjected to sexual and physical assaults and electric shock.

Two Iranian government officials involved in censorship, including blocking the popular encrypted messaging app Telegram, and a government-linked tech unit, Hanista Programing Group, also were placed on the sanctions blacklist.

According to the Treasury, Hanista creates and distributes messaging apps meant to be alternatives to Telegram that allow the government to monitor and track users' phones.

The US Treasury "is taking action to hold the Iranian regime accountable for ongoing human rights abuses, censorship and other despicable acts it commits against its own citizens," said Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin.

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